Parsons Brinckerhoff (PB) was suffering from a problem common in many established enterprises where IT infrastructure has grown with the company. The need to respond to growing demands by adding new technologies resulted in a piecemeal infrastructure with the associated risks, inefficiencies and inflated costs.
The company had already started to work on its DCCAMP (Data Centre Consolidation and Migration Project) when it was introduced to WhiteSpider. Working alongside PB’s IT team, WhiteSpider’s team of experts quickly identified the major areas where improvements could be made and applied its unique ea4 framework for enterprise architecture to help PB achieve its key objectives of reducing risk, consolidating and simplifying its enterprise architecture and cutting the overall costs of running its IT systems whilst improving performance.
The results speak for themselves: a fragmented environment has been transformed into a coherent, reliable, scalable and future-proof architecture that delivers greater performance at a fraction of the operating cost.
At a glance
Parsons Brinckerhoff is a global consulting firm assisting public and private clients to plan, develop, design, construct, operate and maintain thousands of critical infrastructure projects around the world. Founded in New York City in 1885, Parsons Brinckerhoff is a diverse company of 14,000 people in more than 150 offices on five continents. With a strong commitment to technical excellence, a diverse workforce, and service to its clients, the company is currently at work on thousands of infrastructure projects throughout the world, ranging from the mega-projects that define an entire region to smaller, more local projects that keep a community humming.
The company offers skills and resources in strategic consulting, planning, engineering, program management, construction management, and operations and maintenance. It provides services for all modes of infrastructure, including transportation, power, energy, community development, water, mining and the environment.
Parsons Brinckerhoff is a company with over 130 years’ history and a federated structure. So inevitably its IT systems had evolved in a haphazard fashion, responding to needs as they arose in various parts of the business, with each business unit choosing its own solutions and standards.
The company had been having issues for some time with power outages, makeshift server room arrangements and legacy equipment which could no longer be maintained. Its systems were under-utilised and difficult to manage. However it was the arrival of Hurricane Sandy in October 2012, and the near-disastrous flooding of the primary Data Centre in Carlstadt, New Jersey, that served to highlight the level of risk that the company faced. With increasing single point of failure events and a site that was both unsuitable for future development and nearing the end of its lease, Hurricane Sandy was the final straw that brought forward the company’s plans for consolidation and migration of its systems, with the aim of creating a private cloud platform and a fully maintained data centre, proofed against disasters and with built-in resiliency.
Parsons Brinckerhoff therefore needed to conduct a thorough review of all its systems in order to create a truly robust, consolidated architecture that would be resilient, easy-tomanage and future-proof. With little more than a year until the lease on the existing data centre site expired, PB looked to find a partner who could help them manage this in the timescales available. The company needed a partner with the experience in large-scale migration projects, plus the technological vision and expertise to design, plan and implement a solution that would deliver a good Return on Investment, excellent performance and significant cost savings.
A number of incidents had highlighted the vulnerability of our systems and data centre facilities network and we needed to replace the haphazard infrastructure with a robust resilient solution that would also deliver performance benefits and cut costs.
Keith Zecchini CIO, Parsons Brinckerhoff
We needed to work with an organisation that had done this before! WhiteSpider demonstrated that they could deliver high level observations, effort, and commitment. They have consistently gone the extra mile - kept the project on time and on track with exceptional dedication and working with impossible deadlines!
Jeff Negrete Infrastructure VP, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Parsons Brinckerhoff had a disparate infrastructure with many different systems in different business units and a very dispersed estate across several sites. WhiteSpider had to react quickly to review and understand the objectives of the project, including the key services, dependencies and stakeholders, with first results needed within just a few days.
Using its unique ea4 approach, providing a framework for developing and implementing enterprise architectures, WhiteSpider was able to engage quickly with the PB team and carry out a high level audit of the service environment, dependencies, locations and user footprint. The information from the audit provided valuable insight for WhiteSpider to plan PB’s migration and transformation strategy, including the size, type and location of a co-located data centre provider. WhiteSpider also supported PB in the procurement process, helping to define objectives, core requirements and selection criteria for the new data centre environment. This included writing the RFP document and helping to evaluate the proposals and choose the right data centre provider and location.
WhiteSpider also used the knowledge gained from the audit to inform the process of designing a new, agile service delivery platform for PB based on the creation of its own private cloud infrastructure. As part of this enterprise architecture process, WhiteSpider also helped to manage the comparison of technologies for the new architecture in a “technology bake-off.”
Planning the migration involved several enterprise alignment steps in a staged migration for PB’s various sites, bringing all the company’s IT systems and data centre facilities into one consolidated infrastructure. This involved creating and implementing a consolidation and migration plan for all systems across a number of sites. It included a new design and infrastructure for the company’s headquarters at One Penn Plaza in New York, moving many of its servers and consolidating into a smaller space, rationalising technology to create a more coherent infrastructure. In addition PB was able to vacate its premises in Carlstadt and move to its new co-located data centre environment in Culpeper, Virginia, with economies of scale and the cost advantages of co-location.
The migration plan undertaken with WhiteSpider as part of its enterprise alignment services included consolidation of all systems, the new design and infrastructure in Parson Brinckerhoff’s HQ and the new data centre in Culpeper. It involved deploying new technology solutions and standards, a new virtualisation platform and storage platform, in order to create a powerful private cloud environment for Parsons Brinckerhoff. One of the major gains was the reduction in the complexity of the system with five storage platforms reduced to one and a 70% virtualisation of the system.
ea4 was developed out of the WhiteSpider team’s desire to see technology used effectively in order to transform the way global enterprises work. It does this by delivering enterprise standards through the four key elements of the ea4 framework and based on total vendor independence.
The first element of ea4 is “enterprise auditing,” aimed at gathering an in-depth level of understanding of a customer’s organisation and its business requirements, as well as technical knowledge on the operational environment.
This is followed by a detailed plan and design, the “enterprise architecture” element, engaging with the business to understand the key business objectives in relation to the IT infrastructure and assets and developing a blueprint to design and build a core foundation of processes and systems.
Thirdly is “enterprise alignment.” Once the architectural designs are defined, they can be implemented through a comprehensive portfolio of services that maps across all aspects of IT infrastructure.
In the fourth “enterprise assessment” element, WhiteSpider uses its experience in modeling, capacity planning and performance management to ensure that the network and applications are tuned to deliver optimal performance and reduce business risk.
The DCCAMP project had a number of clear objectives to help Parsons Brinckerhoff build a robust and agile private cloud environment that would provide high performance IT services for all its business units globally now and into the future. The project has already shown significant gains in terms of reduced cost, improved performance and greater manageability. From a disjointed infrastructure, with significant risks and areas of under-utilisation, PB now has a new structured and streamlined architecture and capabilities, already delivering benefits.
The infrastructure is based around a new and risk-free data centre environment delivering a private cloud-based environment. PB’s headquarters in One Penn Plaza have been refurbished and the consolidation of servers into the purpose-built ROBO Room (Remote Office Branch Office) has meant that costly real estate space has been freed for other activities, whilst servers are housed in more appropriate conditions with better cooling and power supply. Initial studies indicate that cooling requirements have been reduced by 80%, power consumption reduced by two-thirds (66%), and the server room footprint is down from 108 sq meters to just 15 sq metres, a reduction in floor space of 88% representing a cost saving, at New York real estate prices, of $600,000 per year.
The new infrastructure across the PB sites has also improved connectivity and future-proofed the network - with the expectation that the current infrastructure will need little upgrading in the next 3-5 years. Resiliency has also been improved and the overall performance available to users is significantly greater, with the capability for up to 10 Gbps to the desk. In addition availability of the new service environment has now reached the desired five-nines on a 24/7/365 basis, due to the elimination of risk, oversubscription, device failure and power outages, plus new maintenance contracts around new technologies.
The new environment has been designed and configured in line with industry best practice and therefore it is more agile around service delivery, easier to operate and manage, and integrates seamlessly with legacy equipment and components. As a result it is delivering substantial cost savings, including the operating costs, streamlined time to deliver new services, reduced equipment footprint and maintenance costs.
WhiteSpider’s technical capabilities are top notch - they are smart guys, with exceptional motivation, love of technology and the determination to get the job done.
Jeff Negrete Infrastructure VP, Parsons Brinckerhoff
Established in 2012, WhiteSpider specialises in providing consultancy, strategic advice, and practical support in enterprise service architectures. The company helps organisations to standardise their IT and communications infrastructures by using a unique new service framework – ea4 – developed specifically with the needs of global enterprises in mind. Headquartered in the UK, WhiteSpider works with global companies across a range of industry sectors, including financial services, pharmaceuticals, healthcare, construction and motorsport.
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